Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trip to Bukit Tinggi Malaysia - Berjaya Hills: Colmar Tropicale

Photo By: Elin Chow

It was during December last year that my husband and I decided to visit Bukit Tinggi for the first time in our life. Actually, prior to this trip, I have never heard of the attraction named as Bukit Tinggi in Malaysia before. So, when my husband suggested that we should visit Bukit Tinggi on a half day trip, I felt really excited about the idea. Immediately, the next day, we got in our car and drove all our way to Bukit Tinggi.

Bukit Tinggi

Situated in Bentong district of Pahang, after Genting Highlands,  lies a beautiful and peaceful small hill known as Bukit Tinggi . Located 2000 feet above the sea level is a bustling small town hill village, filled with activities and tourists. Undoubtedly, the cooling and refreshing weather is what makes such a small hill town one of the popular attraction to visit in Malaysia.

How To Get There

Located approximately 48 km away from Kuala Lumpur, Bukit Tinggi is easily accessible from Karak Highway via a 45 minutes drive by car.

Alternatively, just in case if you have no intention to drive, Berjaya Group also provide daily shuttle bus services that run daily from Berjaya Times Square, Kuala Lumpur to Colmar Tropicale, Berjaya Hills at the scheduled timing. The schedules and fares of the shuttle bus are as shown below:

You may wish to visit the Colmar Tropicale website for more information. 

Places of Attractions

Once you paid and entered, you will be able to access to the three main attractions in Bukit Tinggi. They are named the Rabbit Farms, Japanese Village and of course, Colmar Tropicale. However, we only managed to visit the Japanese Village and Colmar Tropicale due to bad weather conditions on that day. To prevent this post from getting too lengthy, I shall break up my visit to Bukit Tinggi in two separate blog entry. I will cover Colmar Tropicale in this particular post first and the Japanese Village in my next entry.

Entrance Fee

All guests are required to pay an entry ticket upon arrival at the entrance gantry. The rate for the ticket is as shown below:

Please note that for in-house guests who are staying with Colmar Tropicale Berjaya Hill Resort, the entry tickets will be refunded to you during check-out. However, the number of refundable tickets will depend on the type of room you had booked.

Colmar Tropicale 

Colmar Tropicale, a French-themed village and resort inspired by the old town of Colmar in Alsace, France, which is known to be one of the most beautiful city in Europe.

In front of the entrance. you will find a beautifully crafted fountain, which was known to be an official gift from Alsace, France.

Upon arrival, we were immediately awed by the diversity of architectural styles, which I believe is what makes Colmar Tropicale unique and attractive to both the local and foreign visitors. 

The entrance of the attraction was fronted by a wooden drawbridge and a clock tower that is designed after the Riquewihr Tower in Alsace. Interestingly, the clock tower is also fitted with a cuckoo bird that chimes and comes out every 15 minutes and on the hour. However, it was a pity that that I did not personally get to see that with my own eyes.

The wooden drawbridge reminiscent of an ancient castle. While crossing the wooden drawbridge, it made me felt as though I was being transported magically to a fairy tale land, ready for a brand new and exciting adventure!

Officially opened in 2000, the Colmar Tropicale Berjaya Hills Resort is a 4 star resort comprising a total of 248 French-themed hotel suites and rooms for its guests to choose from. Each of the rooms are air-conditioned and well-furnished with classic light wood furnishing.

Although we love the place very much, we were not interested to book ourselves a room and spend a night at Colmar Tropicale. It was mainly because we found that the cheapest room, which would cost about RM 250 per night was a bit overpriced. Furthermore, it seems that the rooms offer little privacy to its guests. Why do I say so? I shall elaborate on this in the later of my post.

Apart from the wooden drawbridge and cuckoo clock tower, I was also captivated by the colorfully and beautifully painted life-size horse sculpture. Well, I believe the horse-sculpture is definitely striking enough to attract the attention of most visitors at any time and day.

We arrived quite late on that day. That was another reason why  we did not have sufficient time to visit the rest of the attractions too.

While at the Colmar Tropicale Bejaya Hills Resort lobby, this magnificent suit of amour again caught my attention. There are actually six of these lying around the resort.

Exiting from the Colmar Tropicale Beyaja Hills Resort, we strolled down the cobblestone pathway, surrounded by rows and rows of colorful vintage buildings with timber window frames.

It was around Christmas when we visited the Colmar Tropicale. In the middle of Colmar Square, a gigantic Christmas tree warmly greeted us. The joys and happiness of Christmas filled the cooling air and warmth our hearts.

In front of the christmas trees, we were delighted to find a red carriage drawn by another two brilliantly and fancifully painted life-size horse sculptures. Although I was disappointed that I could not go for a ride in the horse carriage, I was still glad that at least I have my prince with me.

Sitting in the centre of the Colmar Square is another water fountain. This was where we decided to sit and rest for a while before we continue to explore the place.

Both side of the cobblestone streets are lined up with rows of restaurants, souvenir shops and hotel suites and rooms.

Even the lamp post look antique, just like those you would often see in most fairy tale movies.

Located right at the end of the cobblestone street, you will find an observation tower where you will get enjoy a spectacular 360° view of Colmar square. To reach the top of the tower, you could either choose to climb your way up the stairs or take the lift. For us, we prefer to take the stairs at our own pace while admiring the scenic view of the surrounding hills.

Climbing our halfway through, stopping from time to time to check out the view of Colmar Square, Really impressive! However, do not give up and continue to climb your way to the top. I believe the view at the highest point shall not disappoint you.

I believe these are the hotel suites and rooms. Imagine if I were standing on my room balcony, enjoying my cup of coffee and the cooling breeze and suddenly, I became the main character in a stranger's photograph. How would you feel? I believe anyone of you would feel really uncomfortable. So, now you understand why I feel that the resort actually offers little privacy to its guests.

For any guest who would like to go for a swim in such a cooling weather, the resort also has a small and nice outdoor pool. But I really wonder how many of its guests would actually use the pool and risk catching a cold at the end of the day.

The top of the viewing tower offers us an even nicer and more spectacular view of the whole Colmar Square.

From the top, we managed to catch a glimpse of the Bejaya Hills Golf & Country Club too! Covering an area of 16,000 acres, the golf course is nestled high up in the mountains, surrounded lush greenery and rain forest. A beautiful sight, but obviously, it is a place for the rich only.

Far far away, the peak of the mountains are entirely covered by thick and heavy fog. Mysterious yet beautiful. I believe it must be really cold up there.

Climbing down from the viewing tower, once again, we headed back to the entrance.

Back at the entrance, under the wooden drawbridge, we were delighted to find a moat filled with beautiful white and black swans!

What a beauty! I could not describe how excited I was when I saw these beautiful birds!

To be frank, this was actually my first time seeing a swan. All my life I have never expected that I will have a chance to see one, especially in Malaysia. I was even more surprised to learn that swans are not only white in colour. There are black ones too! Oh gosh! I felt so ignorant.

Comparing both, I actually love the white swans more than the black ones. I find the white ones more beautiful and cuter than the black ones. This also explained why I have captured more photos of the white swans than the black ones.

But this does not mean that I did not find the black swans cute at all. It has its own beauty as well. I believe there are some others who might prefer the black swans more than the white swans.

So, with these, I have come to an end of this post. Hope that everyone of you have an enjoyable time reading about my fun-filled day spent at Colmar Tropicale, Bukit Tinggi. Stay tuned for the next part and I shall be back very soon again!

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Marriage Proposal

I believe every woman wants to have a romantic and memorable marriage proposal. Well, I am not an exception too. Often, I will fantasize how my future husband would propose to me someday. How and where he had planned for the marriage proposal to take place? What will he says to get me to marry him? Will there flowers? Will he be getting a ring? Will it be an eventful moment? 

So, as mentioned in my previous post, he finally proposed to me during our getaway trip to Bintan. Actually, before he proposed, I already knew that we would be getting married right after I have completed my university education. In fact, we had been discussing about our marriage plans since we were only a year into our relationship. 

What makes me so sure? Well, I do not know the answer too. Perhaps, it was because I just could not wait to marry and spend a lifetime with him. Even so, I still eagerly look forward to the day when he will officially propose to me. 

Over next one year, I hinted him multiples of times about the marriage proposal which I have always dream of. But most of the time, he will just try to brush me off with a cheeky smile. Often, this led to wonder whether he really have the intention to marry me or not. If yes, why was he not proposing?

Just when I have convinced myself that it is absolutely fine to marry without a marriage proposal, he proposed. It came as a big surprise for me, although I am the one who had took the time and effort to plan and create that prefect opportunity for him. 

So, we arrived at Mayang Sari Beach Resort in Bintan on the 29th March 2013. It was a scorching hot afternoon and all we wanted was to quickly check into to our air-conditioned room.

Immediately right after we put our bags down, he held my hands and got down on both of his knees. He looked at me affectionately and started to speak in a very gentle deep voice.

"Would you marry me dear? You are my very first and I promise that you will be the last in my life. I promise that I will protect, care and try my very best to make you feel happy and wanted every second in your life.

I am really sorry that I have not prepared any flowers or ring for such an important occasion. But I promise I will get you these as soon as we got back home. I felt even more sorry that I did not know how to plan a special event to make such a lifetime moment memorable for you..."

He paused for a while, unsure of what to say next. Silently, I looked at him while my tears uncontrollably fell down my cheeks. Seeing my tears, he seemed to get more nervous and worried. While still on both his knees, anxiously, he started to apologize again.

"Are you feeling sad that I have made such a terrible marriage proposal? I am really sorry for making you feeling disappointed. But I promise that I will not let you down or stop loving you every single day. I will take good care of you..."

I interrupted him and asked him to get up on his knees. Of course, without any hesitation I said, "Yes, I do!" Or did I just nodded my head to show him that I accepted his marriage proposal? I could not really remember.

He stood up and embraced me tightly into his arms. Then we exchanged passionate kisses while tears continue to roll down my cheeks. My mind was blank. I could not speak as I was just too overwhelmed with happiness.

Although I had a feeling that he would propose on our trip to Bintan, I could not be sure. There were no signs that indicate that he was going to propose on that day. Thus, I dropped the idea and convinced myself that I might be thinking too much.

However. the reason for my tears was never because of the bad marriage proposal which I had received from him. I cried because he has finally officially asked me to be his wife. Even though he proposed without flowers or a ring, I was still deeply touched by his true heart, sincerity and love for me. I could feel his anxiety when he saw me cry and that he started to blame himself for not doing better.

This was when I realized that having a incredibly dramatic proposal was actually not the most important thing to me. What matters the most is his love for me. I was deeply convinced that he is the only guy who I wanted to spend my life with. Furthermore, I knew that he is never really a romantic guy in the first place. Thus, I guess all I expected was just a simple proposal from him.

To be frank, I only came to realize much later on that he had actually got down on BOTH his knees when he was proposing to me! How could I not have noticed that at that time! It seemed as if he was begging me to marry him. So, how can I reject a guy who begged me to be his wife?

Anyway. as what he had promised, he brought me to pick out our engagement ring from a jewelry store right after we came home. For that, I have chosen an engraved white gold ring that comes with a small shiny diamond. It was simple, but beautiful. I believe its simplicity signify our pure love for each other.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Trip To Bintan Island: Nirwana Gardens - Mayang Sari Beach Resort

Photo By: Elin Chow

Bintan Island, Indonesia

Bintan islands, the largest island in the Riau Archipelago of Indonesia, is located just 50 minute ferry ride away from Singapore. The island, being promoted as the second best holiday destination after Bali by Indonesia, is often well-known for its stunning sandy white beaches and luxurious beach-front hotels and resorts. Due to its close proximity to Singapore, Bintan has remained a popular getaway destination for both Singaporeans and Malaysians.

So, for a short getaway from the busy and stressful life of Singapore, my husband (who was my then-boyfriend) and I decided to spend our long weekend in Bintan islands during the Good Friday holiday last year. Well, actually I was the one who had suggested and did all the planning for this trip to Bintan. However, he just took this particular opportunity to make a simple marriage proposal to me. Definitely it was not romantic at all, but surprisingly, I was moved to tears. Even so, I said yes! For those who are interested to know more about my marriage proposal, I will be documenting it in my next post. For this post, I shall only write about my experiences on the island.

Accommodation & Transport

After doing some research and comparison online, I decided to book Nirwana Gardens - Mayang Sari Beach Resort for two nights. Next, I proceeded to book our ferry tickets with Bintan Resort Ferries online. The prices of the tickets are shown as below:

Since we were visiting on a public holiday, we have to pay the peak round trip fares on an Economy class to Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal in Bintan. Personally, I really feel that booking an Emerald class is a waste of money. The Economy class is already very comfortable and even if it is not, why spend so much more for only a short 55 minutes ride? 

After making our booking online, we were instructed to collect our ferry tickets from the Bintan Resorts Ferries counter at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. Please note that you are required to collect your boarding pass at least 1 and half hour before departure time. 

Nirwana Garden

Mayang Sari Beach Resort is one of the five hotels and resorts operates by the Nirwana Gardens hotel group. The other four accommodation options offers by Nirwana Gardens are as follows:

1. Nirwana Resort Hotel - Newly furbuished and very family-oriented

2. Mayang Sari Beach Resort - Prefect for couples who prefer tranquility and privacy

3. Nirwana Beach Club - A haven for sea sport lover

4. Banya Biru Villas - Perfect for family and group gathering

5. Indra Maya Pool Villas - Lavishly furnished, a luxurious hideaway

Upon arrival at the Bandar Bentan Telani Ferry Terminal, immediately we headed to the immigration counter for immigration clearance. Once it was done, we exit out from the clearance area and were pleased to find the coach pickup services from the Nirwana Gardens hotel group waiting for us. In order to board the free coach arranged by Nirwana Gardens, simply put in your arrival time under the remark section when you made your hotel reservation online.You will have to confirm your reservations with the staffs at the Nirwana Gardens counter.

After confirming that our name was in their guest list, we boarded the free coach and arrived at Mayang Sari Beach Resort with a very welcome with staffs dancing near the reception counter. Welcome drinks and cold towels were also immediately served to us while we were checking in to our room at the counter.

At Mayang Sari Beach Resort, guests are offered a choice to book either a sea view or garden view chalet. For our stay, we have chosen to stay in a sea view chalet. Although we had to pay so much more for a sea view unit, we did not really mind since all we wanted was just to relax and enjoy ourselves to the fullest for that weekend.  

After collecting our room keys from he reception counter, we were delighted to be greeted by the wonderful sight of the beach, The light blue sea, with coconut trees lining up against the clear blue sky! Definitely, this will be a prefect place for a short seaside getaway.

Interestingly, each of the chalet block is either named after a sea creature or a bug. 

We were allocated a seahorse number 4 room, which is just conveniently located right beside the resort lobby.

At Mayang Sari Beach Resort, there are a total of 50 rustic thatched-roof beachfront chalets, all organised in blocks of 4 for guests for choose from. All of the units come with its own private verandas and are equipped with deck tables and chairs for guests to relax and laze their day away while admiring the beautiful view of the vast blue sea and sky. In order to provide total privacy to its guests, the curtains in all the chalets can be fully drawn. 

Excitedly, we entered our room and were pleased to be greeted by a spacious and clean room. It was well-lit with yellowish standing lamps, which seems to give the entire room a very warm, relaxing and romantic feel. No wonder Mayang Sari Beach Resort is said to be suited to couples who wish to spend some quality time together!

There is also a small couch located just right at the entrance of the room. This is where the guests could sit together and enjoy spending quality time with each other.However, for us, it just became a place where we could throw all bags on. 

We were also delighted to find that the changing area is nicely furbished where it is equipped with an walk in wardrobe, a full body mirror, safe box and hair dryer. 

Each of the room is also well air conditioned and comes with other basic amenities like a mini bar fridge, a small color television with local and satellite channels, ceiling fan, complementary coffee and tea making facilities and free wifi. 

Unfortunately, I really feel that the chalets were seriously in need of refurbishment as they were already showing signs of wear and tear everywhere. I believe this was the only downside of this resort for us. However, I heard that the chalets have underwent some renovation works for the past year. Hopefully the management has got everything nicely fixed and refurbished again.

Even though the rooms looked really tired and old, we still enjoyed our 2 nights stay with Mayang Sari Beach Resort very much. Oh, did I mention that this resort does not have a swimming pool as well since the beach is located right at your doorstep? If you are someone who prefer to swim in a pool, I would strongly recommend you to stay with Nirwana Resort Hotel instead. 

While at the resort, I would spent most of my time sitting on the private veranda, listening to the sound of the waves while the fresh sea breeze lightly brushed across my face. I love the smell of the salty sea and enjoy the tranquil sounds of tropical beach. Everything just feel so relaxing, peaceful and calm. 

Just imagine how awesome life would be if I could wake up to such stunning view every morning. This explains why we did not mind splurging a little bit more on a sea view resort whenever we are on a beach vacation. We were really glad that the little extra which we have paid was worthwhile.

Throughout our short 3 days stay with Mayang Sari Beach Resort, the beauty of the sparkling blue sea never fails to mesmerize us. The sounds of the waves, the whispers of the sea breeze, this is where the pace of life started to slow down. This is where I will learn to appreciate all the liitle things in life.

After spending a few hours lazing in our chalet, we decided to explore the resort a little more. Hand in hand, we strolled down the concrete pavement, enjoying the tranquility and each other's company.

Located just at the left side of the concrete pavement is the beach, which surprisingly, was not crowded with people. In fact, most of the time, the beach was quite empty, quiet and unhappening. I believe the main reason was because there was nothing much to do at the beach since it does not offer any kind of water sports or recreation activities for its guests. For that, you will have to visit the beach at the Nirwana Beach Club Resort.

As a result, we had the entire beach almost to ourselves! We were really pleased that we actually get to enjoy such tranquility and privacy at such a popular beach destination.

I would highly recommend Mayang Sari Beach Resort to couples who wish to enjoy some privacy and seclusion at the beach. 

If you prefer to have the beach to be just right on your doorstep, you could request a chalet that is located further away from the lobby. However, I feel that the ones which are located further away from the beach will actually provide you with more privacy. 


Overall, our dining experiences in Bintan was pretty good as we get to taste a wide array of western and Asian cuisines. However, we were surprised that the prices of the drinks and food are mostly priced in Singapore dollars (SGD). Even so, it was still much more expensive to dine in Bintan than in Singapore.

Until recently, the Indonesian government has announced that SGD will no longer be accepted for all transaction on the island. Therefore, it will be advisable to carry sufficient rupiah and a credit card with you when you are visiting Bintan.

If you would like to dine by the beach, I would really recommend you to try the BBQ buffet dinner at Mayang Sari Beach Resort. Although we never get to taste the food at the BBQ buffet dinner, it did smell and look really nice to us. The price was very affordable and reasonable, costing only about SGD 40 for each person.

Rather than to dine by the beach, we actually went for a BBQ poolside buffet dinner at Nirwana Resort Hotel, which was almost priced the same as the one at Mayang Sari Beach Resort.

We had our breakfast buffet served at the Spice Restaurant, which is located just right beside the lobby area. The buffet provided by the resort was really good as it offers a great selection of cuisines for us to choose from. 

Nirwana Gardens actually provides a free internal shuttle bus services to take you around the area. So if you wish to get around to explore the island more, simply hop onboard a shuttle bus that will arrive at your hotel lobby every 30 minutes. Please refer to the bus schedule at the lobby area in order to plan your time well. 

Kelong Seafood Restaurant

The Kelong Seafood Restaurant, located at the western coast of Nirwana Gardens, is undeniably one of the best place to dine in Bintan island.  

Kelong Seafood restaurant is a restaurant constructed primarily with wood and built above the sea. Dining at this restaurant offers us a panoramic view of the sea and also a great place to catch a sunset. Since we arrived quite late on that evening, we have actually missed the sunset.

The restaurant was actually set in a very nice and romantic ambiance where we had enjoyed a long pleasant dinner together. 

For dinner, we had ordered ourselves a set menu which consisted a total of 5 dishes. The first dish served to us on that night was fake shark fin soup. 

Next up, we had lemon roasted chicken. It was such generous serving and we ended up not being able to finish the food. Furthermore, the taste of the chicken was not to our liking either. The meat was just too dry for us to swallow. But still, we know that it is really bad to waste so much food.

Our most favorite dishes of that night will be the stir fry sotong and butter prawns. In fact, it was so delicious that we found ourselves ordering these two dishes again the next day for our lunch.

The Chili Crab was apparently the highlight of the dinner. Although the crab meat was really fresh and sweet, the sauce does not taste as good as it looks. 

As for the price, it was not cheap but reasonable. For such a sumputuous dinner, it only cost us about SGD 100 for two person. This meal will have cost us so much more if we were dining in Singapore. 

Unsurprisingly, the next day, we visited the restaurant again for lunch. Since we were the first guests to arrive for the day, I finally found the opportunity to snap more photos of the entire place. 

The view was so much more stunning in the morning as compared to the last night! 

For lunch, we had ordered one of their highly-raved dish, Gong Gong. For those who did not know, Gong gong is actually a kind of edible sea snail that is unique to Batam, Bintan or Tanjung Balai Karimun in Riau Islands Province.

To eat this, simply use a toothpick to slowly remove the flesh from the shell.

Typically, I love any food that goes well with Mayonnaise and so we ordered fried prawns with Mayonnaise sauce! 

Of course, we will not miss out our most favorite dish, the butter prawns too!

I could not remember how much we had spent for our lunch. I believe it was somewhere around SGD 60. But for the amount of seafood we got, the price we had paid was still reasonable. Apart from the delicious food, we were akso very satisfied with good services provided by the restaurant. The staffs were always smiling whenever they were serving us, which enhanced our dining experience at the restaurant.

Nirwana Resort Centre

After lunch, we boarded the free shuttle bus service and alighted at the Nirwana Resort Centre For those of you who are staying with Nirwana Resort Hotel, the Nirwana Resort Centre is easily accessible via a 5 minutes walk away from the hotel.

At the wide variety of recreational activities offered by Nirwana Resort Centre will definitely leave most of us spoilt for choice. 

Jumbo Elephant Park

Also, if you happens to love Elephants, you might be interested to go for an Elephant show and ride. I was actually feeling really keen to watch an Elephant show at that time. But I dropped the idea after finding the price to be a little too expensive. Anyway, I still managed to catch a glimpse of the Elephants at the entrance where the Elephants show was held.

For those of you who are interested, you may refer to the Nirwana Gardens - Bintan Resorts website for more details.

Final Thoughts

So, with these, I have come to an end of my 3 days 2 nights getaway trip to Bintan. I could not describe how much I could not bear to leave the relaxing island and return to the reality. The slower pace of life is always what I longed for and usually, it is only at such moment, I will learn to appreciate every tiny bits in my life. 

The economy of Bintan is highly dependent on tourism. Due to this, the services we received were excellent. Throughout the time we spent time on the island, no matter where we went, we were welcomed and greeted with a nice and warm smile. 

Our stay with Nirwana Gardens - Mayang Sari Beach Resort was great. The resort staffs were always very friendly and helpful whenever we required any assistance. I will definitely not hesistant to recommend Mayang Sari Beach Resort to anyone who wish to enjoy a quiet beach getaway.

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